Even a very tiny spark is capable of growing into a ferocious forest fire, if that tiny spark has the strength. That small spark could potentially destroy all impurities by burning them all to ashes. In the same way, a ferociously strong personality, with deeply imbibed virtues, has the capability to cleanse society of evils and moral depredations, by setting a righteous dharmic example to human kind. This post is about one such person, who sacrificed his life to nation building, renouncing all wealth, name and fame. He was a true karma yogi, he did not care for glory, but he made a deep impact on the foundations of society and politics. He spent all his life traveling to every nook and corner of the Indian country, serving the people and motivating them to stick to the path of dharma. It is unfortunate that many youngsters of today do not even know the name of the person who was the philosophical backbone of one of the political parties of India – The Jana Sangh, which now has grown into the Bharatiya Janatha Party.Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya was born in 1916, in a modest family in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Orphaned at a very tender age, DeenDayal was raised by his uncle. Even though he was very poor and the family faced many hardships, Deen Dayal studied hard and obtained a BA and an MA degree by the time he was 21. At the end of his studies, when his uncle urged him to take up a job and lead a more settled life, Deen Dayal realized his life’s calling. All around him, he was seeing the suffering India was being put through by the British rule. He was seeing the once prosperous land, now barren and poor. He wanted to revive the life of the country. He decided to join the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to become a pracharak (volunteer) and serve the country and its men, through the path of karma yoga. Deen Dayal worked unceasingly towards the RSS’ ideals.
In order to protect the people from the Congress’ political games in 1950s, a few among the best pracharaks from RSS formed a political party that was called the Jana Sangh. When the chief founder of the party – Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee died shortly afterwards, Deen Dayal took charge to keep the party organized and moving towards a common goal. In the hour of gloom and despair, Deen Dayal assumed the reins of leadership and fifteen years of his untiring effort brought the party to a level where political pundits began to consider the Jana Sangh as a close competitor to the Congress. Deen Dayal was the philosopher, the motivator and the guide to the party. Deendayal’s personality was a rare combination of commitment, clarity and pragmatism. He was a prolific scholar and an excellent orator with forward-looking ideals and objectives – exactly those qualities that a leader in India needed in the 1960s. In one of his speeches, he said – “We are energized by the glory of India’s past, but we do not regard it as the pinnacle of our national life. We have a realistic understanding of the present, but we are not tied to the present. Our eyes are entranced by the golden dreams about India’s future, but we are not given to sleep and sloth; we are karmayogis who are determined to translate those dreams into reality. We are worshippers of India’s timeless past, dynamic present and eternal future. Confident of victory, let us pledge to endeavor in this direction.” (at the Jana Sangh’s historic Calicut address)
The well-known Nanaji Deshmukh was Deen Dayal’s roommate in his MA school years, and he recounts an incident that portrayed the inherent simplicity of Deen Dayal’s character. One day, Deen Dayal and Nanaji were going to the vegetable vendor to buy some vegetables. They bought vegetables worth 2 paisa and almost returned to their hostel, when Deen Dayal stopped suddenly. He put his hands into his pocket and pulled out 2 paisa and said, “I had 4 paisa when we left the hostel. And one of those coins was a bad coin. I accidentally gave the bad coin to the vegetable vendor. Let us go back and exchange the coins.” Saying thus, Deen Dayal made Nanaji go back all the way to get the bad coin back. The vegetable vendor was touched by this act of genuine goodness, and with tears in her eyes, she blessed Deen Dayal. Only after giving her the good coin, did he feel relieved and the agitation left his face. Such was the high standards of moral conduct that Deen Dayal adhered to.
Even though his contribution to the Jana Sangh was enormous, Deen Dayal always chose to stay away from the lime light and never came too close to the mainstream media. He preferred to remain in the background and monitor the work that was being done. He did not care for the name and fame that was easily attainable by any political activist, if chosen.
In all his extensive travels across the country, Deen Dayal always chose to travel by second class train compartments instead of first class, because he was very simple and he always insisted on living like a common man, not like a political party leader. He carried one extra pair of clothes, bedding and some books. Since he was always on the move, these were pretty much his life’s belongings. During one such trip in 1968, while Deen Dayal unassumingly stood by the door of a train compartment watching the beautiful Delhi sunset, an unidentified assailant mysteriously murdered him on the rail tracks. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya will not only be remembered for being the principal architect of the Jana Sangh, but also for being the author of his well known philosophical political treatise on a profound and original concept called “Integral Humanism”.